Under the guidance and direction of the Elders Cultural Advisory Council, the SQCC is working constantly on researching, writing, and making available to the tribal community and the public the history of our tribal nations, the Séliš and Ql̓ispé.  

Our history reaches back thousands of years. It has been handed down to us from the elders, the keepers of our cultural knowledge, who themselves received the history handed down from the ancestors. We have combined our research in oral history with archival research focused on the information provided by earlier generations of elders. 

Below you will find free downloadable PDFs of various chapters and topics of our history. More will be added when the new SQCC website is launched. Additional materials may be found in the "History" chapter of the SQCC's new "Brochure and Guide to Available Materials," available here: Brochure Download


Climate Change & Native People
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29/03/2022 19:21:01

Aay u Sqelix - Bull Trout history.pdf
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Salish Removal to the Jocko Valley

In the Hellgate Treaty of 1855, Xʷełx̣ƛ̓cin (Plenty Horses or Chief Victor) and the Salish people insisted on staying in their homeland, the Bitterroot Valley. The treaty guaranteed the Bitterroot for them unless the President decided, on the basis of a survey, that the Flathead Reservation was "better adapted to the wants of the Flathead Tribe." Although the required survey was never conducted, President Ulysses S. Grant declared in 1871 that the Salish had to be "removed" to the Reservation. By this time, Słmx̣e Q̓ʷox̣qeys (Claw of the Small Grizzly, or Chief Charlot) had succeeded his father, Xʷełx̣ƛ̓cin, as Head Chief, but he stuck to Xʷełx̣ƛ̓cin's position of peacefully resisting removal from the Bitterroot. So when the U.S. sent officials to Montana in 1872, Słmx̣e Q̓ʷox̣qeys said this was where the bones of his ancestors were buried, and he would not leave. Congress never knew of the Chief's refusal to sign, however, because the negotiator, future U.S. President James Garfield, forged the "x" mark of Słmx̣e Q̓ʷox̣qeys onto the agreement. Non-Indians called Słmx̣e Q̓ʷox̣qeys a treaty breaker until this outrageous forgery was proven to be true by Senator G.G. Vest in 1883.

However, two sub-chiefs, Arlee and Ninepipes, decided it would be best to move. They left the Bitterroot Valley in 1873, accompanied by a few families, and moved to the Jocko. The U.S. treated Arlee as Head Chief, giving him a house and a small stipend, which only deepened the anger and distrust of Słmx̣e Q̓ʷox̣qeys toward the Government. Then the Northern Pacific Railroad was constructed thru the Reservation in 1883, they named the depot in the Jocko "Arlee," and this remained the name of the town, which got its first post office in 1901.

The majority of the Salish, meanwhile stayed in their ancestral Bitterroot Valley under the leadership of Słmx̣e Q̓ʷox̣qeys. White settlers began to crowed in around them, even though these incursions were not allowed by the terms of the Treaty. As a result, the tribe became more poor. Nevertheless, when Chief Joseph's band of Nez Perce came through the valley during the 1877 war, the Salish refused to join their long-time friends and relations, and instead defended the settlements. Despite this, non-Indians and the Government only increased pressures on the Salish to leave the Bitterroot, which was considered some of the best agricultural land in Montana. Słmx̣e Q̓ʷox̣qeys repeatedly refused to move.
After the Missoula & Bitterroot Valley Railroad was built in 1888, white settlement began to increase more rapidly, and in November 1889, faced with worsening conditions for his people, Chief Charlot finally agreed to move. He secured guarantees of housing and other material help for the people once the relocated to the Reservation. Told that they would be moving right away, the Salish did not plant props in the spring of 1890. Congress appropriated no funds for the removal, so the people remained in the valley--but now without the food they would have normally raised. The same ting happened the next year, as Congress continued its patrons malign neglect. Throughout 1890 and 1891 Salish people sold their stoves and other house hold belongings in their struggle to get enough to eat. Finally in october 1891, General Henry B. Carrington and a contingent of troops from Fort Missoula roughly uprooted the people from Stevensville area and marched them north to the Reservation.

Many elders, including Sophie Moiese and Mary Ann Combs have related the sadness of the journey and the rough way people were treated by troops. One woman, Mrs. Lumpry, fell off her horse and broke her hip, and was crippled for life. Mrs Combs recalled that after the two day journey, the people camped near Evaro called Nłesletkʷ (Two Creeks). The people pulled them selves together, and led by young men riding out ahead on their horses, the Salish came into the Jocko Valley. A large group of Pend d'orville and other tripbal people awaited them at the Jocko church, and welcomed them to the Reservation. It is said the Salish settled at the southern end of the Reservation because they did not wish to move any further north than they had to. So the homes of Słmx̣e Q̓ʷox̣qeys, Sam Resurrection, Sophie Moiese, the Vanderburgs and many others were spread between Snłiʔoyčn (Evaro), Snłaʔcná (Schley), Nłqá (Arlee) and łqʷqʷʔú (Valley Creek). Some Salish families, notably the Pierres, moved back to the Bitterroot after 1891.

Despite the pain and loss of removal, the Salish quickly rebutlt their lives on the Reservation, establishing many successful family farming and cattle operations. They did this even thou the Government reneged on many of its promises of help.

Ten years after the removal the Salish and the Governments solemn promise that the Reservation would always be a protected home for the people, free from harassment, congress passed the law that would open the Flathead Reservation to white settlement. Tribal members, including Chief Charlot and Sam Resurrection, repeatedly protested this law, but to no avail. In 1910, the homesteaders poured in to the Reservation, taking much of the best land. The Flathead Irrigation Project was built, often over pre existing Indian built ditches, and suddenly Tribal farmers had to pay for water they had always used for free. Many small operation had produced food only for subsistence needs, and families couldn't pay these new fees. Many Tribal allotments were sold to non- Indians before the Allotment Act was cancelled in 1934.

The salish survived all this, and Arelee today is the home to a vibrant Salish community. Salish homes are found throughout the area. In the arlee schools, Salish language classes have been taught for many years now to the many Salish students. The Vanberberg Culture Camp at Valley Creek was founded by Agnes Vanderburg in 1974 and run by her until her death in 1989. Th camp is now run by her daughter Lucy and son Victor, and was opened to all interested people from June thru August for hunting, fishing, camping, solitude and gathering of foods and medicines.


cłsusuw̓e (Black Lake) flows through to Jocko River which flows to meet with the Flathead River in Dixon. Tribal elders Mike Durgelouh sr., John Peter Paul and Noel Pichette talked about the nšiy̓e (little river), ntx̣ʷe (big river) meeting in Dixon thats why its called sčili or sčilip. There is also a story about čt̓et̓ʔu(wild plums) growing along Flathead River in Dixon, below the town. Mike Durgeloh says the plums used to grow where the old bridge used to be.

John Peter Paul says there are little čmtus(green plums), you pick before they are ripe like you do tomatoes and they eventually ripened on their own. John remembers his mother, Clarice Paul, and their family, and picking wild plums for a couple days.

After the Northern Pacific Railroad was built through the Reservation over the objections of tribal leaders in 1883, a depot was built at this place, and it was known as Jocko City. In 1904 it was renamed Dixon after Rep. Joseph Dixon, a Missoula Republican who that same year had pushed the Flathead Allotment Act through Congress. The Act required the Government to break up tribally owned land by drawing up an official roll of tribal members and assigning separated tracts of land to heads of families and other individuals. Any land leftover would be declared as surplus by the government and thrown open to white settlement. Tribal members and Chiefs including: Chief Charlot, Chief Qeyqeyši, and Sam Resurrection, briefly protested the Actas an outrageous breaking of the Hellgate Treaty of 1855, and many subsequent promises (the Garfield Agreement of 1872, the Railroad Agreement of 1882 and the Removal of Salish in 1891). All of which agreements guaranteed that the Reservation would be for the exclusive use and benefit of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Trabes. Dixon, prodded on by business interests in Missoula,pushed the bill through without getting the tribal approval. In 1908, he also pushed through a measure to establish the Flathead Irrigation Project, who's principal purpose was supposed to be the benefits the Tribes. However, most irrigated lands quickly fell into non indian ownership control after the Reservation was finally opened in 1910. Dixon went to serve as national manager Teddy Roosevelt's, unsuccessful "Bull Moose" campaign in 1912, and later was elected Governor of Montana.

Warriors and Tribal Leadership

In our traditional way of life, we were led by chiefs, who were selected by our leaders and elders. Each tribe had a head chief, a sub-chief, and several small chiefs to handle matters of importance. If the tribe divided, the head chief took charge of one group and the sub chief took charge of the other. The small chiefs regulate the welfare of the camp, the safety and comfort of the people, and proper conduct regarding camping, firewood, horse heard, scouting, hunting and guards. Leadership was chosen not on the basis of wealth, but accrding to a warrior's deeds of courage and leadership on behalf of the people. The hunt for buffalo and welfare with the Plains tribes, especially in the 19th century, made life very hazardous for the Salish and Pend d' Oreille, and it increased the leadership role of our warriors. The tribes we fought against regarded Salish and Pend d' Oreille warriors as some of their most formidable opponents. According to stories told by Pete Beayerhead, the counting of coup was a high war honor for the Salish and Pend d' Oreille men, and this, along with other factors, determined the selection of chiefs.